Whether it’s because of matchups, injuries, or usage trends, there are plenty of reasons why a player can struggle in a given week. It’s important to try to identify these risks in advance. With four teams on a bye (Packers, Panthers, Browns, Titans), you might be forced to play someone on our Week 13 fantasy busts list, but you’ll at least be aware of the circumstances and have a chance to replace that player. This week, we’re worried about Russell Wilson, hot waiver pickup Sony Michel, and seemingly everyone from the Patriots-Bills game. Players like this figure to be involved in a lot of Week 13 fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions, which is why it’s important to think twice before locking them into your lineups.
As always, even perennial stars can bust in favorable matchups, but it’s tough to call superstars “busts” unless they’re less than 100 percent, they’ve really been trending downward, or they have a particularly brutal matchup. We mostly stick to naming guys on the start-or-sit bubble, not guys who are simply going to have a good-but-not-great week or guys who are on over 90 percent of waiver wires. Sometimes you don’t have the depth to reasonably bench these players (or you might just totally disagree with our assessments), but you’ll at least know who is at risk this week. Nothing is worse than being taken off guard by a fantasy dud.
WEEK 13 FANTASY: Sleepers | Start ’em, sit ’em
In Week 12, we correctly identified Alex Collins, Rhamondre Stevenson, Rashod Bateman, Courtland Sutton, C.J. Uzomah, Hunter Henry, and the Steelers D/ST as flat=out busts. Our misses were Myles Gaskin, Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, and the Broncos’ defense. Admittedly, we went bold there, so we’re not shocked by the results.
Overall, we were in the green, so here’s to another solid week of figuring out the worrisome players.
WEEK 13 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Week 13 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs vs. Broncos (Jackson Sparks). Since CEH isn’t as productive in the receiving game as many had hoped when he entered the league, he virtually has no solid floor and is realistically matchup-dependent. Outside of outlier performances from D’Ernest Johnson and Kenyan Drake, Denver has only surrendered more than 13 fantasy points to Najee Harris and Austin Ekeler. Additionally, Edwards-Helaire is far from a workhorse back at this point, as Darrel Williams is usually right on his heels in touches. The lack of guaranteed usage and receiving work combined with the tough matchup makes this a tough spot to trust him.
Najee Harris, Steelers vs. Ravens (Vinnie Iyer). You’re starting him in most leagues but cannot feel good about it after he was shut down by the Bengals and the Ravens just silenced Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Sony Michel, Rams vs. Jaguars (Matt Lutovsky). With Darrell Henderson nursing a sore quad, fantasy owners will be tempted to start Michel even if Henderson is active. Either way, we’re not big fans of the Rams handcuff. Jacksonville has been surprisingly decent against RBs this year (12th-most fantasy points per game allowed), and Michel has averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on 79 attempts. If he’s starting, he has upside, but there are plenty of backs with higher ceilings.
WEEK 13 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Week 13 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos @ Chiefs (Sparks). The Chiefs’ season-long numbers against QBs are awful, but early matchups with Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert early in the year are inflating them. If it’s up to Denver, this will be a run-heavy game script, and with Kansas City’s defense playing well of late, it’s tough to trust Bridgewater in Arrowhead under the lights.
Joe Burrow, Bengals vs. Chargers (Iyer). Putting him here might force a get-well game, but the numbers and trends say Cincinnati would be smart to stay run-heavy with Joe Mixon against a defense that doesn’t give up much to wideouts and QBs.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. 49ers (Lutovsky). Wilson ended up with decent numbers last week thanks to a last-minute desperation drive, but he still didn’t look right most of the game. In his three games since returning from a finger injury, he’s completed just 55.7 percent of his passes for 205 yards/game, two total TDs, and two INTs. He’s also managed just 50 rushing yards. The 49ers’ defense has its issues, but Wilson is an unnecessary risk in a week with plenty of good streaming options.
WEEK 13 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel | Yahoo
Week 13 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Darnell Mooney, Bears vs. Cardinals (Sparks). Mooney has put up over 120 yards in each of his past two games, but the Cardinals’ defense is a top-10 unit in limiting fantasy WRs. Additionally, Allen Robinson (hamstring) should be back, and Justin Fields (ribs) should be, too. Weirdly, Andy Dalton was better for Mooney’s fantasy success, and Robinson’s absence at least drew some targets away from him. Add the fact Arizona is rested coming off of a bye, and there are just too many factors going against Mooney this week.
Kendrick Bourne, Patriots at Bills (Iyer). He went off big time finally last week to add to his solid season — and there’s no Tre’Davious White (knee) — but you should be able to do much better at WR3 than forcing him into this unfavorable spot.
Tee Higgins, Bengals vs. Chargers (Lutovsky). Higgins has a fairly solid floor, so for that reason alone you might not want to sit him, but before scoring last week, his last TD was in Week 2. Last week also marked just the second time all year he had more than 78 receiving yards in a game. The Chargers allow the third-fewest FPPG to WRs, so if you think you’ll need big points, you might want to look elsewhere.
Week 13 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Hunter Henry, Patriots @ Bills (Sparks). Henry is a touchdown-or-bust standard league option and has given up a touchdown to just Travis Kelce, Logan Thomas, and Nick Vannett. Thomas and Vannett scored in garbage time, so we’re simply betting against the Henry touchdown. With Tre’Davius White (knee) lost for the season, Buffalo’s defensive weakness should be on the perimeter.
Dawson Knox, Bills vs. Patriots (Iyer). The Patriots have noticed how key Knox has been for Josh Allen have the coverage at corner, safety, and linebacker to make him the one thing to stop who isn’t Stefon Diggs, who will see plenty of J.C. Jackson. He’s a lower-end TE1 for that reason.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals @ Bears (Lutovsky). Kyler Murray (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) are expected back, which isn’t a bad thing for Ertz, but he’s been hit or miss ever since joining the Cardinals. He has a decent floor for a tight end, at least in PPR leagues, but the Bears remain solid against TEs despite some recent struggles (seventh-fewest FPPG allowed), so Ertz is mostly TD-or-bust.
Week 13 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
Denver Broncos @ Chiefs (Sparks). We’re not going to be shocked if Denver has a decent day here, but Andy Ried’s team coming off of a bye is a dangerous ask for a defense. Expect Kansas City to come out with bizarre packages and formations, and ultimately build on their hot streak.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Washington (Iyer). No, it won’t be a “jackpot, baby!” at home looking at the red-hot Football Team with a dangerous offense now led by Taylor Heinicke.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Ravens (Lutovsky). At this point, you probably don’t need any prodding to bench the Steelers. This unit is clearly struggling in every phase, a matchup against the Ravens won’t help. Lamar Jackson won’t keep throwing INTs like he has the past two games. Expect a run-heavy game plan with plenty of dinking-and-dunking down field against Pittsburgh’s overmatched D.